Student Leaders Recognized for Campus and Community Service
The students painting T-shirts for the homeless, making videos about campus safety, working in soup kitchens and shaving their heads to help children with cancer don’t do it for glory, or reward. They do it for love. But it’s a fine feather in their cap that the dedicated students in Stony Brook’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) and National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH) chapter have been recognized for regional excellence in the service of their campus and community.
At a recent conference of the North East Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (NEACURH), Stony Brook’s chapter of NRHH was named Chapter of the Year, senior Sam Rosner won the Regional Board of Directors Choice Award for NRHH Member, and senior Peter Sheh won Regional Board of Directors Choice Award for RHA President.
“This is my third year in NRHH,” says Sam, who is president of NRHH and also a member of RHA. “It’s really defined me as a leader and a person.”
Based on the four pillars of leadership, recognition, service and scholastics, NRHH has been at the leading edge of many initiatives, including establishing a bone marrow registry last year in collaboration with RHA, Seawolves Against Cancer, and Undergraduate Student Government.
“Creating the bone marrow registry was probably the biggest thing we did,” says Peter, an information systems major with a specialization in business. “We affected student life and people outside of Stony Brook.”
“We swabbed 841 students,” says Sam, a biology major who is heading to Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the fall. “It was the tenth largest bone marrow registry to be held on a college campus in a single day.”
Last year, as vice president of NRHH, Sam established the Sunrise Shaves campaign to raise funds for pediatric cancer patients through the Sunrise Fund. Under his leadership, 14 students shaved their heads and raised $6,500.
Junior Mariah Geritano, also a member of both organizations, serves as Stony Brook communications coordinator for the 85-member RHA. In that capacity she oversees 30 hall councils and coordinates the fall and spring retreats, in which students are trained how to run their hall councils.
“NEACURH holds three conferences a year,” she says, referring to the organization that bestowed the above-mentioned awards as well as one for RHA advisor Kathleen Hart. “Long Island has never hosted one before. My co-chair and I put in a bid to host the regional, and we got it. Now we’re planning the November conference at Stony Brook.”
Mariah, a double major in biology and psychology, also started an initiative this semester called Saturday of Service. Working with the Career Center, she invited service organizations from on and off campus to the Global Studies/Human Development Center on a Saturday. The groups raised funds by doing activities such as painting T-shirts for a homeless shelter and decorating bookmarks for local libraries.
Michael Saccomanno and other NRHH members film a student safety video on campus.
Michael Saccomanno, a fourth-year student in the five-year bachelor/master’s program in chemistry, is president of Catholic Campus Ministry as well as community service coordinator for NRHH. His many community service endeavors give him great satisfaction.
“My father is a fireman in the city, so it’s kind of in my blood,” Michael explains.
Through the Ministry and NRHH, Michael has worked in soup kitchens and walked in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at Jones Beach. He has helped out at the Veterans Home and at Sweetbriar Nature Center, and has volunteered at Bethel Hobbs Community Farm in Centereach, whose proceeds and extra produce are donated to local food banks.
This year, under Michael’s leadership, Catholic Campus Ministry is collaborating with the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in efforts to help a group called Love on 46, which is committed to advocacy and action against child sex slavery and human trafficking.
“This semester through NRHH I’d like to organize a public safety day,” says Michael, who is creating a safety video using student actors. “I’d invite the University Police, Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps and a lot of student groups and professional rescue organizations for a nice, one-day event.”
Junior Jason Hyatt, public relations coordinator for NRHH, says, “I participate in a lot of extracurricular activities to challenge myself.” Jason, who is double majoring in psychology and political science, is proud of the group, which is comprised of the top one percent of student leaders on campus. “Students have to show academic excellence and some prior leadership role before applying to NRHH,” he explains.
His internship with Target as an executive team leader last summer helped Jason realize his strengths and weaknesses as a leader. “It made me aware of my leadership potential.”
As if one position in NRHH weren’t enough, junior Emily Edwards is both secretary and treasurer and also in charge of the leadership committee.
“We’ve partnered with Boys and Girls Club of Suffolk County, and we go there to help out every other Friday,” says Emily, who is majoring in athletic training. “I also do the English Pal program here at Stony Brook, where we’re paired with international students. We meet for conversation to help them gain English-speaking skills.”
Chris Weber, a computer science major, is NRHH’s recognition coordinator. He handles the group’s “Of-the-Month” awards that span 20 categories and are open to nominations of people or groups. Last semester he orchestrated Community Week, during which students, faculty and staff were recognized for their efforts all week long. Activities included Free Hugs and High Fives Day, Bus Driver Appreciation Day, and creating holiday cards that went to the Veterans Home and Nana’s House, an organization that serves and protects children who are homeless or at risk for abuse and neglect.
“We also do the Workday Welcome,” says Chris, a junior. “We go to offices, bring donuts and surprise people at the start of their day. It’s all about bringing a smile to their faces.”
All of the students say that campus and community service round out their Stony Brook experience. More important, it just makes them feel good.
In Mariah’s words, “I love being involved at Stony Brook, so I try my best to do everything!”
By Toby Speed; photos by John Griffin